McCain and Obama Vie Over Whether Palin Means Change

September 8, 2008

Source: Bloomberg
Republican presidential candidate John McCain defended his running mate, Sarah Palin, as having a “clear record of doing what America wants,” while Democrat Barack Obama said her policies aren’t much different from those of President George W. Bush.

McCain, on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said Palin’s outlook and political experience as the governor of Alaska and a former small-town mayor “not only qualifies her, but brings to Washington a kind of an energy and a fresh wind.”

Obama said Palin is “even more aligned” than McCain is with the policies of fellow Republican Bush. Her selection undermines McCain’s claim that he would depart from Bush’s agenda, Obama said on ABC News’s “This Week.”

Both Obama and McCain have made changing U.S. policies a focus of their presidential campaigns.

McCain, 72, has defended Palin’s readiness for the Republican ticket since he picked her as his running mate 10 days ago.

Half of U.S. voters said Palin, 44, doesn’t have the experience needed to be an effective president, according to an ABC News poll released Sept. 5. Forty-two percent of the voters said she has the necessary experience, the poll said.

Obama, 47, wouldn’t comment on whether Palin is qualified for the vice presidency, calling her a “skilled politician” and saying the “resume contest that’s been going back and forth is not what the American people are looking for.”

`I Didn’t Hear’

“What I didn’t hear from Governor Palin, what I didn’t hear from John McCain,” was “how are they going to put people back to work? How are they going to deal with health care,” said Obama, a first-term Illinois senator whose political resume has been called thin by Republicans.

McCain, on “Face the Nation,” said he has to “make a strong case that we’re going to bring about” change, and Palin can help him.

“Who better in the political landscape who could do that than Governor Palin, whose whole life has been engaged in that, taken them on and winning,” McCain said. “I have taken them on and won less than she has.”

McCain cited Palin’s successful campaign to unseat a governor her own party, Frank Murkowski, as evidence she was a political maverick like him.

Voters are enthusiastic about his choice of Palin because she backs reform in Washington, McCain said.

`Excited Our Base’

“She has not only excited our base, she has excited Americans,” McCain said. “All over this country we have campaigned together. The electricity has been incredible,” he said. “She is kind of what Americans have been looking for.”

McCain called Palin “the most popular governor in America” because she “passed ethics and lobbying reform” and “gave money back to the taxpayers” and “cut spending.”

Obama won’t be able to change Washington because “I don’t think he has the judgment,” McCain said. Obama “never took on his own party on any single major issue, I have taken them on a lot,” he said.

Obama’s running mate, Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, said debating Palin won’t be different from debating “a lot of very tough, smart women” he encounters every day in the Senate.

“What is new is I have no idea what her policies are,” Biden said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Biden predicted that Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, will campaign side by side with Obama as well as independently in the eight weeks before the election.

Deferring Tax Increases

Obama suggested that if elected president, he might defer tax increases on wealthiest Americans if the U.S. economy were still in a recession. The Illinois Democrat has proposed increasing taxes on high-income Americans to finance cuts for middle-income taxpayers.

“We’ve got to take a look and see where the economy is,” Obama said, adding he still planned to push through tax cuts for middle-class Americans. “That’s my priority”

“I want to accelerate those tax cuts through a second stimulus package, get more money in to the pockets of ordinary Americans,” he said.

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